The quantification of the products exchanged is not always the decisive factor; there may be other more important factors: the kinship of the people exchanging; the vital need; the scarcity of the product; the symbolic value of the product (coca, for example); the characteristics of the people. Bartering is done blindly, just as the ‘invisible hand’ of the monetarized market supposedly does. The anonymity and abstraction (quantitative) of money (pecunia non olet) becomes direct and concrete (qualitative) in the reciprocal barter of goods.
The principle of reciprocity, like the other Andean ‘logical’ principles, is valid in all fields of life. It is worth mentioning the multiple forms of economic reciprocity of work and commercial exchange, family reciprocity of kinship, compadrazgo and mutual aid, ecological reciprocal restitution to the pachamama and the apus/achachachilas, ethical reciprocity of behavior in conformity with the cosmic order, and religious reciprocal interrelation between the divine and the human.
A purely active God (actus purus) is an absurdity for Andean philosophy. The concept of ‘grace’ as an absolutely unilateral gift without any reciprocal ‘response’ on the part of the recipient is not compatible with the ‘cosmic justice’ expressed in the principle of reciprocity.
The true human ‘subject’ (to use a term totally foreign to the Andean world) in the Andes is the ayllu, the collectivity organized and ordered by means of a set of established relationships. But in an ultimate sense, the ‘subject’ is the cosmos (pacha) itself with its system of multiple relationality, of which the runa/jaqi is a participant and co-cultivator. In this sense, the Andean human being (as a collectivity) is a ‘cosubject’ that at the same time is a ‘co-object’.
The Andean human being is never self-conceived as a ‘subject’ who is in front of an ‘object’; rather, he is and exercises a ‘function’ (to speak in mathematical terms). The human being is a cosmic or pachasophic ‘co-laborer’, with a certain ‘function’ or task in the set of relations; it is then a ‘functional identity’ in a relational sense, and not an absolute monadic identity.
‘Subjecthood’ is not related to rationality and freedom, nor to self-consciousness and spontaneity; also animals and plants, celestial bodies and meteorological phenomena can be ‘subjects’. The specific dignity of the collective human subject lies in its transcendental place and relational ‘function’ as chakana within the whole (holon) of the universe, and not in a logo-morphic (reason) or theo-morphic (image of God) aspect.
Author: Dr. Josef Estermman